TIPS ARE PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE, anzi, (that’s Italian for actually quite the opposite) they are GREATLY appreciated!! Yes, by all means, tip your waiter, tip your cabbie, tip your bellhop, just like you would at home, but most importantly TIP YOUR TOUR GUIDE!!! Please remember that these people are providing you with a service and they work very hard and are rarely paid accordingly. Now I know that Rick Steves says you shouldn’t, but please take it from me, I and many of my colleagues, we depend on it. The person providing you with the service is only getting paid a fraction of what you paid for it. Italy has THE lowest wages in Westeren Europe, even lower then Greece. (See previous post She Works Hard for the Money) People are forced to live at home until they are in their mid to late 30's because even professionals barely pull in 1000 euro per month. These people are working very hard and that coperto that you are paying at the restaurant is NOT going to the server, trust me its not, its going to the owner.
I work in the service industry here in Italy and let me tell you that without tips I would not be able to pay my rent, bills, etc. It doesn't have to be a large tip even a few extra euro is appreciated and very much needed. Even my ITALIAN husband leaves tips in restaurants. You don't have to tip for your coffee at an espresso bar but, your concerige who just spent 15 on the phone for you making reservations for museums and dinner, yes you should tip her. Your taxi driver who lifted your heavy suitcase in and out of his car, yes you should tip him too, your waiter who brought you bread, then wine, then olive oil, then water etc, yes you should tip her too. Your tour guide who just spent the last 4 hours talking non-stop explaining every little detail of the paintings in the gallery with the utmost enthusiasm and booking your tickets as well as answering all of your questions related to the tour and not, yes you should tip her too!!!
It is incredibly frustrating to me to read in guide books or on other web sites and blogs about traveling to Italy that one should not tip. My colleagues and I are constantly looking for ways to spread the word about tipping in Italy knowing that it is a common misconception that one should not, and then to find out that there are still those who are saying not to is like taking a GIANT step backwards for us! Obviously I'm not saying that you should tip if someone has been rude or not performed their job properly, but I know for example that I am ALWAYS nice and gracious and not getting a tip after putting in all of that time, energy and effort is slightly frustrating.
P.S. I just wanted to add for those of you who might be visiting my blog for the first time, that the purpose of this blog is to answer question that I am asked regularly about visiting, studying and living in Florence honestly and candidly. My purpose is to share with you my thoughts and opinions from a realistic point of view. Thanks for stopping by. Please let me know if you have a question and I will do my best to answer it for you.